The key to weight loss.

Literally two days after my complainfest about my internship, I had the shift of my dreammss. Dr. Z had a new patient coming in to discuss hormones and weight gain and she let me sit in. I got to hear his entire spiel on the hormonal cascades of weight gain and the brilliant science behind his diet. I noticed on the bottom of his diet plan that it is okay if it is distributed as long as it is not altered, so I will post it below.

In a word, weight loss comes down to one thing: insulin.

Let me explain. Everything we eat and drink can be divided into four categories: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and alcohol. (Yes, alc does get its own category, because it technically is none of the above.) All carbohydrates are composed of sugar, they simply differ in the bonds linking the sugars and the complexity of the food matrix. Table sugar is very processed, has little fiber, and hits you like a truck – BAM. White bread is also made of sugar, with a few more bonds that you need to break to get to it. Whole grains are sugar too, but with way more bonds, way more fiber, and a lot more work for your body to get at. But any carbohydrate, bread, pasta, sugar, fruits, veggies, potatoes, whatever – are broken down into sugars in the gut. The sugar then enters the blood stream and is floating around waiting to get picked up by muscles, organs, and fat tissue. In order for sugar to get into the cell, insulin needs to be secreted by the pancreas and bind its receptor on the tissue.

Insulin binds the receptor –> transporters allow sugar into the cells –> there is a subsequent decrease in blood sugar.

Once in the cell, sugar can be used for energy, turned into glycogen for short term storage, or turned into fat for longer term storage. In other words, to store fat, you need insulin and you need carbs. 

The problem with the typical American diet is that it is very processed and carby. Most people are typically spiking their insulin all day long, essentially telling their bodies to store, store, store. Eventually, many people begin to develope insulin resistance. Their cells are so tired of seeing sugar and seeing insulin that they stop listening to insulin, and stop taking in sugars. This leads to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels.

If the insulin cant bind the insulin receptors, where does it go?

This is where I started to learn something from Dr. Z.

As insulin increases in the blood, it starts to get desperate for a place to bind and do its thing, so it beings to bind receptors for another hormone called IGF 1, Insulin like Growth Factor 1.

Binding to IGF1 causes a whole slew of effects, some good, some bad. The bad include:

  • fat synthesis
  • increased testosterone (in women, this can lead to unwanted hair and darkened skin patches)
  • moodiness
  • lethargy
  • resistance to weight loss
  • acne
  • decreased fertility
Not good. Therefore, the main goal of the “EZ diet” is to regain the body’s sensitivity to insulin, decrease insulin’s presence in the blood, and lose weight overall. In order to achieve these goals, foods that are highly insulin inducing must be avoided. The diet is as follows:

Bad List:

  • Sugar (including hidden sugars, like juice)
  • Breads, baked goods
  • All FLOUR containing things, like flour tortillas
  • Potatoes and yams
  • Yogurts of ALL types (EVEN GREEK!)
  • Beer, white wine
  • Bananas
  • Instant Oats
  • All cereals (even high fiber)
  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt 😦

So-So List: Serving size = tennis ball

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Steel cut oats

Good List:

  • Anything not on the bad list
  • Meats, fruits, veggies, nuts
  • Corn products, corn tortillas, corn chips
  • Dairy products, except for all yogurts
  • Red wine in moderation

Phase 1: Restrictive

  • NOTHING from the bad list.
  • 1-2 servings per week from So So list. 
  • Unlimited food from good list. 
  • Last 1-4 weeks. Cravings will decrease and there will likely be impressive results. 
  • You may be hungry between meals for 1-2 weeks. Eat snacks from Good list.

Phase 2: Maintenance

  •  2-3 servings from Bad list
  • 3-4 servings from So So list
  • Unlimited Good list
  • Cheat 1 time per week
  • Vacations – Enjoy yourself. You may need to return to Phase 1 for a few weeks after vacations.
  • The point of getting to eat from the bad list is to listen to how you feel and you will see that you actually feel worse when you ‘indulge’ in foods from the bad list. Over time, these foods will become far less appealing.

The cheat in Phase 2 is actually important so that your body does not completely adjust to your new, low insulin inducing diet. You want to keep seeing results. 

There is so much more to the diet and the science behind it, but I will go into it another day. As a last note, every single food on the bad and good list has been backed up by multiple studies citing whether or not they cause spikes in insulin. They aren’t just guesses.

I was going to post a recipe down here, but all the ones I have yet to post don’t fit in with the diet…. so it seems a tad inappropriate. So, I’ll give it a day or two! I don’t personally follow this diet because I am not trying to lose weight, although I do tend to eat a lower carb diet than is typical (I think). However, I agree with the logic and science behind the EZ diet and I would support a friend or family member who needed to lose weight to do this diet.

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33 thoughts on “The key to weight loss.

  1. Where do winter squashes or dark chocolate (85%) fall on the list, any idea? Also, being that dairy products are all known to be highly insulinogenic, I’m surprised that it isn’t categorized under the “bad” list.

    1. Milk is on good list for calcium and vitamin d reasons. But yes it does cause more insulin than other things. Squash is good. Chocolate… Not sure? Probably soso ? In moderation..

      Sent from my iPhone

      1. Thank you! Silly that milk is on the good list because of vitamin d; the vitamin d added is often synthetic and cannot be properly utilized by the body because of it.

      2. polyphenol epicatechin is an antioxidant that is found in dark chocolate. Maybe for this reason, it has been should to improve insulin sensitivity (or how sensitive to insulin you are), thus, reducing blood glucose, and reduce blood pressure…..

  2. Also, fruit is deceiving; although it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels directly, the high amount of fructose is more detrimental for those with insulin resistance than sweet potatoes, say, being that it is processed in the liver and freely circulates in the blood for longer. It also doesn’t stimulate the production of leptin or insulin, making the long term detrimental effects more profound considering insulin doesn’t respond to fructose consumption.

  3. This is very interesting in how it’s split into the different phases.
    Although I wasn’t surprised to read that people are spiking their insulin all day long. The foods people consume in the western world is overall just lacking in nutrition.

    1. As you an athlete it is important to have a high carbohydrate diet, but it is also important to have a balance between simple and complex carbohydrates. Carbs provide necessary calories for training and are the primary source of energy for your brain (i.e. mental and physical focus is allowed due to carbs). Without enough carbs, your body will use stored fat and protein for energy. Fat is a rich source of energy, but does not fuel your brain. Thus, your body will break down its protein sources–your muscles–for energy. Broken-down protein can be converted into carb energy for your brain. Furthermore, it is important, for instance, to eat meals such as pasta to increase glycogen stores (which glycogen is the storage form for carbohydrates in the liver and muscle). This glycogen store is what your body taps into during a high intensity workout. Personally, I would suggest roughly 50-60% of your caloric intake being from Carbohydrates.

      Also, if you really want to get into it you should look into what your Basal Metabolic Rate is for your height weight and activity level. Use that as a baseline and determine how many calories a day you need. Okay I am going off tangent now, but I hope this helps Alexis!

    2. It is true that athletes definitely need more carbs than non-athletes. You dont want your body to have to burn muscle in order to make glucose for the brain! I definitely did not eat enough carbs while I was a triathlete and I lost a LOT of muscle because of it. Huge regrets.

  4. I think one key thing to note is that there have been SO many different studies about weight loss and what foods cause weight loss (or don’t) – so there ARE a lot of contradicting studies. Personally, while I think science DOES tell us a lot about the human body, I don’t think it can necessary pinpoint the whole picture – I believe that the human body is a lot more complex than that. I also think different foods affect people in different ways, even if these foods do spike insulin, I don’t necessary think those “bad” foods would cause the same effects in everyone. I also don’t really condone the delineating of foods into “good” and “bad” categories – it’s sort of emphasizing this black/white mentality – I think food as a whole should be viewed as nourishment – and I think in terms of people who do need to lose weight for health reasons, this could be a good temporary solution but I’m not sure this is an effective long-term lifestyle change! Those are just my thoughts – I’m not a scientist or expert!

    1. I definitely agree that it isnt a good idea to categorize foods into good and bad. That can certainly lead to an unhealthy thinking pattern, especially our age group as females. However, for those that are severely overweight, I think it may make diet choices easier to not have to wonder with every food ‘is this okay?’ Also, an obese person losing weight really does need to pay attention to everything they eat, its so much harder for them to lose weight than someone who just needs to lose a couple, and certain foods can wreak metabolic havoc on their weight loss efforts. Although – I am sure you are right that there is at least some variation in the body’s responses to foods among people. But I think some things are safe to say they will do essentially the same thing. But genetics certainly plays a role (like looking back at what particular ethnic/racial groups ate for thousands of years) Wonderful comment natalie!!

    1. I’m not Lauren, but I’m sure eggs would definitely be on the “good list.” As long as you actually include the yolk, which is where all the nutrition lies, and balances out the pure protein of the white. Fat slows down the rate at which insulin increases; the yolk is there for a reason! It’s also best to seek out local pastured eggs, or at the very least, organic omega-3 eggs.

  5. Geez! This is SO interesting!!! I’m so glad you’re able to share information like this with us. I’m beyond interested in all of this but it’s so hard for me to comprehend when reading it. You always write information in such easy to understand ways. 🙂

    And plus, now I have a different eating pattern to try out! i’m going to try this. I’ve been struggling (A LOT) with trying to find the healthiest way to eat. It’s SO hard and what if there isn’t really one healthiest way to eat.

    I’ve been trying to go back to eating vegan but honestly, it just makes me gain weight (like crazy!).. and now it all makes sense. 🙂

    1. I wish more people would realize that eating vegan truly is NOT healthy! It’s not the diet that we were adapted to eat, and it definitely advocates the overconsumption of undesirable foods (grains, legumes, sugar, fake processed soy crap). A diet consisting of lots of vegetables, grass-fed and pastured meats and poultry, pastured eggs, the occasional raw dairy, a little fruit, and some nuts with some 85% dark chocolate thrown in the mix for sanity (!!) is ideal.

      1. I eat 85% dark chocolate nightly!! I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I definitely don’t do vegan. But I’m not a saint either; I eat yogurt, some grains, fruit, etc….oh my.

  6. Really interesting post, Lauren!! I do know that calorie deficit plays a large part in weight loss, and I already knew some things that you mentioned here–though not everything. However, IF I were ever to lose a lot of weight in the future, I’ll definitely NOT give up Greek yogurt, banana, and some of that good stuff! hehehe. You are so smart, girlie.

  7. What about if you need to gain weight and don’t exercise (body is burnt out). i sit A LOT. Will indulging in carbs make me gain weight all wrong 😦
    Why not yogurt? The yogurts I have have no sugar in them…

  8. Thanks for posting this — I recently moved to Madrid and put on a few pounds that I’d kept off for over 6 months and have been struggling with ways to shed them again — definitely going to give this a try! I’d love to try to incorporate some of your recipes into the diet since they all look so good… any that you recommend that only use foods from the “good” list?

  9. This was interesting and informative. Know someone who was provided with a list like this after seeing a nutritionist. Never fully understood how insulin resistance is reversible. I am a UC Davis graduate too. Have you taken NPB132 with Prof. Craig Warden?

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